Severe weather conditions hampered the World Club Challenege this morning in Leeds, with the local Rhinos getting the win with a hard fought 11-4 win over NRL champions for 2008 the Melbourne Storm. The dominance of English teams remain, as NRL teams continue to struggle with the tough early season road trip.
InÂ a trench warfare style game, points were few and far between as both sides went at each other until the final whistle. With plenty of feeling and some big hits, both sides did fairly well to avoid more handling errors in such heavy rain and torrid winds in the cold English winter.
The Storm naturally missed some of their stars, with Greg Inglis, Mick Crocker and more noticeably Cam Smith missing – the Melbourne side at times lack dummy half punch. Their fitness was fair considering the early pre-season game, but it was the Leeds Rhinos who were like rabid dogs off the defence line and consistently charged up to punish any Storm ball runners.
While not a huge spectacle in terms of points scored or skills on show, it was a game for the real traditionalists – as the gritty flow of set after set took place. Full credit to each side, as they both threw everything into the match and at various stages the emotion boiled over.
Late in the match a flare up between Anthony Quinn and Clinton Toopi got interesting when Storm new boy Will Chambers got involved. The impressive outside back showed an interest in the biff and threw four quick left handers into the fray, rocking Toopi and stamping himself as a ready made future NRL player that should be ready to handle any heat thrown his way.
The Rhinos impressed through fullback Brent Webb and some solid work in the forwards from Jamie Jones Buchannon. For the Storm, Dallas Johnson was tireless as usual – making thousands of tackles and keeping the centre field tight. Certainly not the end of the world for the Storm, the trip has been ideal to blood new players and prove their depth looks perfect for another assault on the NRL permiership in 2008.